I’m a fan of fans (Day 155)…

August 2, 2007


Today, in Toronto, it was 38 degrees, one of those days when it feels like you’re working up a sweat just by breathing. Without air-conditioning, it was pretty stifling in my apartment, and Sophie was none too pleased either — this was demonstrated by her shedding everywhere, then eating the clumps of fur later as though they’d turned into food, which meant she’d be coughing up hairballs everywhere. Then she decided to pee on the living room rug, poop on the bed and save a little extra where that came from for the doormat. Ah, the companionship of pets.

The thing is, Canadians are very reluctant to complain about hot weather because we spend so much of the year whining about the cold and snow. Indeed, if it were sunny and hot like this all year round, I really wouldn’t kick up much of a fuss. In the mean time, however, I need to find a way to beat the heat, and when I was in Madrid, I noticed most women carried around these beautiful paper fans. You could buy them on practically every street corner for just €2 (is that a Euro sign? Did I press the right key?), so I got one and brought it back home with me.

Now, I know it’s not made from recycled paper and it may or may not come from China, but there weren’t really many other options other than making my own, and I’m just not that crafty.

And while using a hand-held fan in itself isn’t much of a green change, the fact that I’m no longer going to use my electric fan is.

Photo courtesy of this artsy fartsy site

Hot town, summer in the city (Day 92)…

May 31, 2007


I can feel it already — this summer is going to be as hot and sticky as a cinnamon bun, thanks in some part to global warming but also because, as of today, I’m switching off the air conditioning.

As some of you may remember, I previously tampered with my thermostat back in March, when I committed to keeping my apartment no warmer than 20 degrees (68 F) during the winter. But as my body has a much higher tolerance for hyperthermia than hypothermia, I figure, heat wave shmeat wave — I’ll be fine with a few fans and some buckets of water.

Plus, the hallways in my building are air-conditioned, so at least a cool breeze will seep in under the door every now and then, and my windows all face north-west, so there isn’t a lot of direct sunlight pouring in all day.

I’m betting this change will be easy enough until late July and August, when there are always those couple weeks that are so scorching you can barely get out of bed without over-heating. You get that permanent layer of sweat and start to feel like a walking, talking lint roller as everything starts sticking to your skin (clothes, cat hair, food crumbs, the grocery list).

It’s all mental, though — I think if I try and accept the heat, be one with Mother Nature and take pleasure in the fact that I’m probably sweating out a lot of toxins or something, it should be fine. I just hope Sophie doesn’t suffer too much in her fur coat.

Comic courtesy of Toothpaste for Dinner

Greening up by shutting down (Day 72)…

May 11, 2007

Greening the office is easier said than done. For example, my colleague and I have been trying to get the air conditioning switched off, or at least turned down, every single summer to no avail. The maintenance guys say that if they turn it down, everyone else will complain that it’s too hot; it’s been the same temperature for years, there’s no reason to change it, blahdy blah blah.

Meanwhile, we end up wearing thick wool socks, sweaters, and on some days even gloves at our desks because we’re so freezing even though it’s 30 degrees outside. It’s not all their fault — if we had windows that actually opened, it would probably be easier to regulate the temperature.

But my theory is that the real reason the air-conditioning will never, ever get switched off here is because the thermostat is controlled by men, who I’m convinced have higher body temperatures than women and sweat more (and in the case of my office these are mostly men who, ironically, are still in denial about global warming).

If I can’t win the war of the thermostat, however, I’m going to try and win smaller battles, beginning with my computer. We’re told to log off — but not shut down — our computers every night before heading home, in case I.T. needs to update our software or install some new program. I guess this might be important for editors and higher-ups but, being a lowly writer, all I need is email, the Internet and something to write on.

The cost of not being updated on something just seems far less significant than the cost of the energy required to power my otherwise untouched computer all night.

I’ve decided, then, to shut down my computer at the end of each day. Hopefully I’ve blabbered on long enough that the tech guys at work have stopped reading by now and won’t notice.

The sooner, the sweater (Day 5)…

March 5, 2007


Farch, as its name denotes, is not a pretty time of year. It’s the general period between February and March when it’s no longer winter but not quite spring. There’s no blanket of freshly fallen snow, nor are the birds chirping or the trees budding; instead, there’s just grey — grey skies, grey streets, grey slush and grey, grey souls.

One way to get over this mid-season hump is to convince yourself that, as a matter of fact, spring is practically here! How, you ask? Fill your home with tulips and Cadbury Creme Eggs, get a head start on Daylight Savings and turn your clock forward an hour, start training for that 10 km run in May — which is basically, like, tomorrow — and finally, kick off those salt-stained boots, toss that ugly scarf your girlfriend knit you for Christmas and turn down the thermostat!

At least, that’s what I’m doing (the thermostat, I mean… I’m too in love with my salty but so comfortablicious boots). As of today, the temperature in my apartment will be no higher than 20 degrees (that’s 68 F). To some, that may seem like nothing, but when your circulation has been on strike since ’79, it means it doesn’t take much before hands, feet and noses are frozen. But I’m sucking it up, pulling on a sweater and continually reminding myself of the drowning polar bears who thank me.